COLUMBIA — Homeowners living near Sunset Lane spoke against the Planning and Zoning Commission's decision to rezone property at West Broadway and West Boulevard.
The commission unanimously voted Thursday to approve a request from the owners of Great Hang-ups and three adjacent properties, Mark Nichols and Patra Mierzwa. The request would rezone the 0.6-acre lot and make it a planned business district. Currently, the lot is zoned for single-family residential use.
The unanimous approval means the rezoning request will be placed on the City Council's consent agenda at its next regular meeting and subject to immediate approval unless a council member asks that it be pulled.
If approved by the council, the current Great Hang-ups business will become a two-story building. The request limits the property to a maximum of 8,000 square feet with only 4,000 square feet of commercial use on the first floor and apartments on the second. The residential component, Nichols said, will hopefully relieve residents' concerns.
Main concerns, brought up by Cookie Hagan from the Historic Sunset Lane Neighborhood Association and other neighbors, included more traffic and a premature development plan.
“Customers and motorists will take shortcuts down Sunset Lane and Hillside Drive,” Hagan said, while presenting pictures of a typical day of stacked traffic around the property.
The request calls for adding right turn lanes on West Broadway at the West Boulevard intersection.
Commissioner Doug Wheeler said the lane will alleviate an overflow of traffic.
"A right-turn lane off Broadway is completely necessary," Wheeler said.
Hagan encouraged the board to conduct further traffic studies before the development begins “to prevent costly mistakes.”
Gennie Pfannenstiel, a resident of Sunset Lane, said she fears the development will increase traffic flow and harm the neighborhood.
“Be thoughtful in protecting this special neighborhood,” Pfannenstiel said. “Traffic would destroy it in a blink of an eye.”
City planner Steve MacIntyre said the current request allows for growth without high impact to the neighborhood.
Not everyone at the meeting opposed the rezoning. Blaine Alberty, owner of the D&H Drugstore across the street from the property, was in favor of the request.
Mitch Moore, whose law firm is located just a few doors down from the Great Hang-ups property, said the rezoning was a significant upgrade to the corner and encouraged the commission to approve the rezoning.
At the end of the public hearing, Commissioner David Brodsky reiterated the necessity of rezoning the property with cooperation.
“I commend the staff and neighbors for their cooperation,” Brodsky said. “But if we don’t rezone, we will have a dead corner in the middle of town.”
The recommendation will be voted on by council next month.